DECORATING THE INSIDE

Sunday 20th December – 4th Sunday of Advent

Reflection: Hebrews 10: 5-10

DECORATING THE INSIDE

 “And this will was for us to be made holy by the offering of his body made once and for all by Jesus Christ” Heb 10:10

Christmas is very much in the air. The streets are decorated, Christmas songs are being played and we all are preparing in various ways for the celebration of the Lord’s birth. Travel preparations and shopping for clothes and food items are in top gear and everyone is looking forward to the celebrations that end each year. It is great to look forward to Christmas with all the external preparations yet, we all run the risk of focussing so much on them that we lose the internal preparation that the Church has been calling us to through the past three weeks.

As we begin the 4th week of Advent, take a moment to ask yourself if you are truly ready to receive the precious gift of our Lord at Christmas. How ready is your heart for our Saviour? Have you cleaned up your life and decorated it just as you may have done your house of office? The writer to the Hebrews reminds us today that God’s will is for us to be made holy through Christ’s self-offering.

Beloved, as we head on to celebrating our Lord’s best, prepare your heart for Him this week. Make efforts to mend broken relationships, seek reconciliation from your neighbours and offer forgiveness to those who have hurt you, attend confession and make your heart right with God. Let this year’s celebration truly make you holy, thus fulfilling the purpose of our Saviour’s birth.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please help me to truly be holy as I celebrate your birth this week. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAAT 6 – Why did God become man in Jesus?

“For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven” (Nicene Creed). In Jesus Christ, God reconciled the world to himself and redeemed mankind from the imprisonment of sin.

HIDE A TREASURE: “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” Hebrews 10:10 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Micah 5:1-4; Psalm 80: 2-3, 15-19; Hebrews 10: 5-10; Luke 1: 39-44

TRUST IN GOD

Saturday 19th December

Reflection: Luke 1: 5-25

TRUST IN GOD

Our lives are often filled with moments of uncertainty. Ranging from a few minutes or hours to several years or even decades, these times of uncertainty can cause us to question our hope in God’s love for us and His power to meet our needs and wants. Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist were righteous and worthy in the sight of God (cf Luke 1:6) yet they were childless. They had experienced decades of uncertainty, hoping that someday, God will give them a child. Yet, nothing happened and as they grew old they lost any hope of child bearing (Luke 1: 18).

Indeed, uncertain moments of uncertainty in our lives can make us give up on God especially when we have waited for so long. Zechariah and Elizabeth remind us however, that we must not lose our fear of God, our faithfulness to Him and our readiness to serve Him. The couple continued to live in righteousness and Zechariah continued his priestly ministry. Little did they know that God had greater plans for them. God desired that they would have a part to play in His salvation plan for man; for from them was to come the greatest of the prophets, one who would prepare the way for Christ and make Him known to the people when He came. And when did God reveal this? Just as Zechariah was at his duty post, ministering before God.

Dear friend, in what area of life are you waiting on God? What periods of uncertainty are you currently going through? Are there certain needs and desires you have been praying about for which the response seems delayed? Please do not lose faith. God has better plans for us than we can ever have for ourselves. Trust Him and remain faithful and then like John the Baptist’s parents and like Manoah and his wife, Samson’s parents whom we encounter in today’s first reading, we will realise that God is indeed faithful. With the Psalmist let us pray:

PRAYER: It is you O Lord, who are my hope, my trust, O Lord since my youth. On you I have leaned from my birth, from my mother’s womb you have been my help. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: 507 – What happens if you find that prayer does not help?

Prayer does not seek superficial success but rather the will of God and intimacy with him. God’s apparent silence is itself an invitation to take a step farther—in total devotion, boundless faith, endless expectation. Anyone who prays must allow God the complete freedom to speak whenever he wants, to grant whatever he wants, and to give himself however he wants.

 

HIDE A TREASURE: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will.” Mark 11:24 RSV-CE

Readings for Today: Judges 13: 2-7, 24-25; Psalm 71: 3-6, 16-17; Luke 1: 5-25

 

HONOURABLE COURTSHIP

Friday 18th December

Reflection: Matthew 1: 18-24

HONOURABLE COURTSHIP

Living in an increasingly secular society, we can easily lose the values that make us stand out as children of God. Such values that can easily be eroded, especially for young people, include purity of mind, heart and body. We do not need to look very far to get caught up with examples of impurity. Simply observing the trend at school – secondary school or higher institution, the “stars” in music, movie and sports etc that the world projects to us and while innocently surfing the web, we hear the same message ringing out: “purity is old fashioned!”; “It does not really matter whether or not you are a virgin!”; “everyone engages in premarital sex, you cannot possible do without it!”. If we are not extra careful and strengthened by God, we can easily become persuaded to live in impurity.

Dear friends, the results of this secularisation are clear: increasing number of unhappy people and marriages, increasing rates of separation and divorce, increased incidence of depression etc. If we are to live out the fullness of our faith as young Christians, we must strive to live honourable lives and seek out honourable friendships and courtships that will lead to happy homes. We must be willing to listen to God’s voice as He speaks to us and gives us the path to follow when we are uncertain.

Today’s gospel reading describes Joseph as an honourable man. His courtship with Mary was pure and holy such that there was no reason for him to panic when she was found to be with child. There was no chance he could be responsible for the pregnancy! Yet, in the midst of this confusing situation, God gave him direction about what to do. He reassured him that Mary’s story was true and that He had a role for him: to be the foster Father of our Lord. Let us open our hearts to God and ask Him for the grace to live lives that honour Him always. As we do, we can trust his direction every day of our lives.

PRAYER: Oh Lord, please help me to live in purity. Help me to build up good friendships and when the time for marriage draws near, grant me the grace of a fiance(e) and a courtship that honours you always. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 404 – What is chaste love? Why should a Christian live a chaste life?

A chaste love is a love that defends itself against all the internal and external forces that might destroy it. That person is chaste who has consciously accepted his sexuality and integrated it well into his personality. Chastity and continence are not the same thing. Someone who has an active sex life in marriage must be chaste, too. A person acts chastely when his bodily activity is the expression of dependable, faithful love.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body” 1 Corinthians 6:18 RSV-CE

Readings for Today: Jeremiah 23: 5-8; Psalm 72: 1-2, 12-13, 18-19; Matthew 1: 18-24

KEEP UP YOUR FAITH

Wednesday 16th December – Wednesday of the 3rd week of Advent

Reflection: Luke 7: 19-23

KEEP UP YOUR FAITH

“…happy is the man who does not lose faith in me.”

A Jew is baptised and becomes a Christian refers to himself as a “fulfilled Jew”. This stems from the knowledge that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah, whose coming was proclaimed by the prophets. Though the Jews received the promise of redemption, most of them unfortunately did not recognise the Messiah when He came and until this day, still await the salvation God promised in Jesus.

Is there something we can learn from this? While the Jews expected a political Saviour who would free them from their Roman oppressors, Jesus came, preaching the good news and a friend of the poor and sinners. They could not reconcile Jesus with the expectations in their minds and even John the Baptist the very one who prepared the way for Christ became confused and unsure of himself at some point.

Beloved, are there ways in which God is working in our lives but we are blinded from recognising Him because our own expectations are not being met? Is God revealing Himself to you in the most unexpected way? Today, ask the Lord to clear all your doubts like Jesus did for John the Baptist. Ask Him to open your eyes so you may recognise His hand at work in your life and circumstances even in ways you do not expect. Jesus pronounces a blessing on you if you do not lose faith in Him. Hold on to your faith beloved, God is ever faithful to His promises.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help me to be open and receptive to the various ways you decide to work through me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 73 – Why is Jesus called “Christ”?

The brief formula “Jesus is the Christ” expresses the core of the Christian faith: Jesus, the simple carpenter’s son from Nazareth, is the long-awaited Messiah and Saviour. Both the Greek word “Christos” and the Hebrew word “Messiah” mean “the Anointed One”. In Israel kings, priests, and prophets were anointed. The apostles learned that Jesus was anointed “with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 10:38). We are called Christians after Christ, as an expression of our exalted vocation

HIDE A TREASURE: “How happy are those who have no doubts about me.” Luke 7:23 GNB

Today’s Readings: Isaiah 45: 6-8 18, 21-25; Psalm 85: 9-14; Lk 7: 19-23

TRULY CHRISTIAN

Tuesday 15th December – Tuesday of week 3 of Advent

Reflection: Matthew 21: 28-32               

TRULY CHRISTIAN

A beautiful lady had been forced into prostitution by difficult and pitiable circumstances. She endured heinous agony at the hands of her patronizers and gradually sank into perpetual grief. At that moment, she had had a handful of wicked men; but she would never forget the first one and the evil in his eyes as he deflowered her just three weeks ago. Haunted by her life, she sought spiritual help at a nearby church only to find that the chief counselor and head pastor of the church was the same man; whose evil eyes haunted her. The rest of the story is obvious.

‘Christians’; who are the first to hear God’s word and by their profession agree to live by it would be most unfortunate; if they do not show their faith in obedience. ‘Christians’ called to live like-Christ would be most unfortunate; if Christ is not seen in their lives outside the Church; in truth, humility and love. Our Christian faith is proven, not just by our attendance in Church, our carrying Bibles and Rosaries around or our outward shows of piety. The most important proof ouir faith is the everyday life we live.

Jesus rebuked the chief priests and elders in today’s gospel reading for their failure to believe John the Baptist because of their religious pride and self-righteousness. Are we any different from them dear friends? Are we open to the challenge for a renewed life, a life that looks beyond ourselves, our pride and past hurts and decisions and  is centred on obedience to Jesus? Redeemed of Christ, the Church is not just a building where piety is stored; the Church is the body of Christ alive in the lives of Christians.

PRAYER: My Lord Jesus, teach me obedience to your Word and help me live like you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 347 – Why is “not practicing what you preach” such a serious deficiency in a Christian?

Agreement between one’s life and one’s witness is the first requirement for proclaiming the Gospel. Not practicing what you profess is therefore hypocrisy, a betrayal of the Christian duty to be “salt of the earth” and “light of the world”.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Samuel then said: Does Yahweh take as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obedience to his command? Obedience is better than sacrifice and submission better than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15: 22 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Zephaniah 3: 1-2, 9-13; Psalm 34: 2-3, 6-7, 17-19. 23; Matthew 21: 28-32.

CHRIST IS THE WAY

Monday 14th November – Memorial of St. John of the Cross, Priest & Doctor

Reflection: Psalm 25: 4-9

CHRIST IS THE WAY

Virtually every religion acknowledges the existence of a supreme deity and a definite means of communicating and connecting with the deity. From the most popular to the least, each one attempts to trace humanity to its divine source. Our faith as Christians is in the supreme creator of the universe; the one true God, and every true Christian would seek to stay connected with Him at every moment. In its deepest sense, Christianity provides Christ who is God made man as our means of staying connected with God. In living like Christ who is the “Way” we live in commune with our Heavenly Father.

The Psalmist’s prayer today is one that we often join in as we seek to know God’s ways and truth and God answers our heart-felt request through His son, Jesus Christ. In overcoming human weakness, Christ shows sinners how to be perfect as our heavenly Father is. (Matt 5: 47-48). Christ reveals to us the true nature of God which is Love. (1 Jn 4: 16) In Christ’s death and resurrection, we find strength to live in the image of God.

Friend in Christ, today try to live as Christ would; relying on God’s unfailing grace. Follow Christ and you will never get lost.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, today give me the grace to walk in your footsteps. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 339 – What does God’s grace do to us?

God’s grace brings us into the inner life of the Holy Trinity, into the exchange of love between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It makes us capable of living in God’s love and of acting on the basis of this love.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses. On the contrary, we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin.  Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where ther is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it” Hebrews 4: 15-16 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Numbers 24: 2-7, 15-17; Psalm 25: 4-9; Psalm 85: 8; Matthew 21: 23-27.

GAUDETE!

Sunday 13th December – 3rd Sunday of Advent

Reflection: Luke 3:10-18

GAUDETE!

As we get half-way through Advent we are greeted at Mass today with “Rejoice!” The Entrance Antiphon captures the message in a beautiful way: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near.” The “Gaudete” Sunday calls you and me, amidst the penitential nature of Advent, to embrace our hope and expectation with joy. What better reason do we have to be joyous than the reassurance that our Lord and Saviour is near?

When we encounter difficulties in our day to day lives – at home, at work, in our communities, in our nation, we can easily become so overburdened that we do not see any reason for joy. Yet God tells us to look beyond all these and see how much we are loved by the very God that holds the universe in existence. St Paul calls us in the second reading to hand over our worries and concerns to God in prayer so we may experience His peace, one that is much greater than we can understand and one that keeps our hearts in perspective.

The question of John’s hearers should become our own too: “what must we do?” We must rid ourselves of the division and strife caused by sin and human selfishness. Remember that the call to rejoice is for the entire human race. Is there any way your words and actions may be preventing your neighbour from experiencing the joy that God fills our heart with? John the Baptist called the people to reconciliation and a life of love and sharing. Advent gives you an opportunity for reconciliation as we wait in hope to celebrate our Saviour’s birth. Let us grasp this opportunity and experience the rivers of overflowing joy in us and around us.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, please fill me with your joy today and help me share that joy with all who surround me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 311-What are the fruits of the Holy Spirit?

The fruits of the Holy Spirit are charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity.

 

HIDE A TREASURE: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” Philippians 4:4 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Zephaniah 3:14-18; Isaiah 12 (canticle); Phil 4:4-7; Luke 3: 10-18